Posts Tagged With: Egyptian elections

ENSLAVEMENT BY CHOICE

Supposedly all people yearn to be free and worship at the temple of liberty. That comprises the cornerstone and building blocks of what we call democracy. Yet, throughout history a different picture emerges. People throughout the ages have often put themselves, voluntarily, into a various forms of subjugation, and you don’t have to go too far back to find sterling examples of  such voluntary servitude. Adolph Hitler came to power largely through the democratic process, and then, of course, quickly extinguished all vestiges of that process, becoming, perhaps, the most ruthless tyrant in history. But there are plenty of additional examples in more modern times.

In the 1970s Iran, which used to be called Persia(a far more romantic and better sounding name I thought) was ruled by a Shah in what was considered a benevolent dictatorship. Although there were no elections, citizens were pretty much able to say or print what they wanted, and they generally had a high level of individual freedom. And although Iran is a Moslem country, the Shah ran a secular society, so religious liberty existed as well. Apparently all this freedom and liberty were too much for the populace to handle, so they allowed the Shah to be overthrown by those crazy kids known as the Ayatollahs. As soon as the overthrow was completed, all traces of freedom melted away like butter sitting out in the hot summer sun. Women, who under the Shah, wore western- style clothing, now had to bundle-up in burkas so only their eyes were exposed to human sight. I guess, if men saw any other parts of women’s bodies unclothed, they would swoon into a state of sexual delirium. Over the next 30 years or so, the Ayatollahs have put to death tens of thousands of their people who tried to oppose their tyranny. Iran has become the leading state sponsor of terrorist organizations, and almost on a daily basis, they solemnly vow the destruction of Israel, who the few as their mortal enemy. In addition, Iran is racing ahead with its plan to build nuclear weapons, and all the while, the West has done nothing to impede Iran’s progress, other than slap a few ineffectual sanctions on Iranian businesses.As the West did nothing to impede Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s until it was almost too late, the West is, similarly, doing little to impede Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons of mass destruction today.

More recently, Egypt, which had been governed by a secular, benevolent dictator similar to the Shah, overthrew that dictator (who was too old and sick to govern anyhow); but in a stunning repudiation of individual freedom, democratically voted in a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as their new president. The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated to fundamentalist Islam, similar to the beliefs of the Ayatollahs that rule Iran.  In effect, the majority of voters declared they were not interested in secular freedom, but instead, wanted religious fanaticism to prevail. Right now, the secular military is battling the president as to who will wield the most power, but in the end, the Muslim Brotherhood will likely succeed. Isn’t it strange, but predictable, how people will voluntarily give up the secular rights they enjoy and embrace religious fanaticism, where they will have no rights. I guess it all has to do with fear and paranoia.

Which brings us to the situation in this country and the upcoming elections. Due to the poor economy, it is highly likely that we will see the election of a Republican president and congress, come November. And with such GOP victories will also come our own unique brand of religious fanaticism. A President Romney will get to put a new, anti-abortion justice on the Supreme Court, probably within the first year of his presidency. Roe V. Wade will be overturned, and legalized abortion will be just a memory of the past throughout most of the country. It’s already a scarcity, as most states in the bible belt have highly restricted a woman’s right to obtain a legal abortion, in contravention of the court’s rulings. The Republican “base” which consists mostly of evangelicals, more fondly known as religious fanatics, thirsts mightily for the illegalization of abortion, the way one might thirst for water after being stranded for days in the desert. Electing a Republican government will finally mark the realization of their fondest fundamentalist dreams come true. Along with abortion, we can also kiss  gay rights and gay marriage goodbye. Instead, the movement will be to shove homosexuals back in the closet, the further back the better. After all, isn’t this what God wants? The evangelicals seem to believe so. Of course, I keep forgetting that they have a direct pipeline into God’s wishes, through Twitter, as I wrote in my last entry. There will, I’m sure, be other examples of where secularism in the political arena, and in society as a whole, will begin to vanish and be replaced by religious doctrine.

They say that about 14 billionaires, all of them old white guys and religious zealots, are providing a good chunk of the money going into Republican coffers. Looks like they will finally be able to rid society of secularism and buy the fundamentalist-type society they’ve pined for. But if they do, it will be we the people that allows that to happen through the voting process.

 

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SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS

A new HBO series started Sunday night called “The Newsroom.” It’s written by the same guy who wrote “The West Wing” so it has some very sharp and smart political give and take. During the broadcast, when the main character was in heated discussion with some of his staff, he made the comment that the country is more politically polarized now than at any time since the Civil War. And we all know how well that turned out. I have to agree that there is currently extreme polarization among the electorate, with the Obama haters going into full fury mode in an attempt to win the election for Mitt Romney. It’s a battle of the the billionaires, with most billionaires on Romney’s side, willing to contribute as much as it takes to buy the election for the Republicans. Two of those billionaires operate here in Las Vegas: Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. They both own mega-resorts from whence their wealth is obtained. So if you come to Las Vegas and throw your money away on the stingy slot machines in their casinos, you’ll also be contributing toward buying the election for his Mittness. Which, if you’re a Republican, I guess is a good thing.

I’ve written before about the many failings of a democratic form of government. Democracy is based on the notion that a majority of voters who cast their ballots, will inevitably decide what is best for the nation. What nonsense. The truth is that most voters are total idiots when it comes to the important issues of the day. Their votes are usually predicated on which set of obnoxious, untruthful commercials they see on television, or irrational fears and paranoia of what will happen if the other guy succeeds. Then their are those that try to use underhanded methods to game the system. For example, the Governor of Florida, a Republican, is trying to “purge” the voter rolls of supposedly ineligible voters. Trouble is, almost all of these “ineligibles” are minorities that usually vote Democratic. Other Republican governors throughout the country have succeeded in passing voter ID laws, again directed at the poor or minorities who often lack drivers licenses or similar ID. If they can intimidate or otherwise prevent enough lower-class people from voting, the GOP then has a lock on all future elections.

Two illustrations readily come to mind about the folly of the democratic process. In the first, poll after poll during the past couple of years show that people have an extremely poor view of Congress. Congressional approval ratings have recently dropped to an all-time low of about 13 percent. Well who put these Congress men and women there in the first place , if not for us, we the people. Maybe the populace believes that beings from Pluto came down in spaceships and took over the halls of Congress. And they’re doing such a horrible job in retribution for the fact that, a couple of years back, we down-graded Pluto from being an official planet in in our solar system. And who could blame them. I mean, we had no call to down-grade Pluto just because it was smaller than the other planets. No wonder all those Plutonians that now occupy the House and Senate are so pissed off at us, and doing such a rotten job. It couldn’t possibly be because we, the voters, keep screwing up over and over.

On a more serious note, the democratic process in Egypt has just taken an ominous turn. Egypt had been ruled by fairly benign dictatorship for the past 30 years or more. It was a secular dictatorship, but people were given a stagnant economy and very little freedom. That dictatorship was overthrown last year, and after much turmoil and chaos, Egyptians finally got to vote for their president. So, in full democratic mode, the election was held last week and the winner was finally announced a couple of days ago. It was an extremely close election, but the winner turned out to be the candidate from the Moslem Brotherhood, which is a notoriously fundamentalist Islamic organization, with chapters throughout the Arab world. The military in Egypt still seeks to retain the dominant political power, but it is likely, inch-by-inch, that the Moslem Brotherhood will slowly turn Egypt from the secular state that currently exists, into a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. Think of Iran to understand what that’s like. The people of Egypt have voluntarily, through the democratic process, voted to give up their secular freedoms for a new kind of religious dictatorship. By the time they realize their blunder, it will be too late to reverse course. And it’s not only bad news for Israel, but for the U.S. as well.

I believe that there is a large segment of the population in this country that would like to foist a Christian theocracy  throughout the land. I think of them as the Christian Taliban. They’re comprised of what we call evangelicals, as well as fundamentalist Baptist organizations, and other religious fanatics. The first thing to go under such a religious theocracy would be legalized abortion. They have already succeeded in ridding the state of Mississippi of even one single abortion provider. The next to go would be gay rights. Gays would have to get way back into the closet, if they wanted to function in such a society. Of course, there are Jewish religious fundamentalists too, who would seek the same objectives, but their numbers are too small to have any real impact. The point is, however, that through the democratic process, people often make really bad choices, that they later regret, when its too late to remedy the situation. Choices like voluntarily giving up freedoms that are too often taken for granted.

Years ago, there used to be a cartoon strip called “Pogo.” It was about an amusing group of swamp animals and all the antics they would get into. One great quote that came out of that strip went as follows: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Think about that when you go into the voting booth in November, to vote for the best candidate the billionaires can buy.

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